If you’re anything like me, you have to love watching Anderson Silva fight.
You can’t wait for next Saturday’s UFC 168 rematch with Chris Weidman for the UFC Middleweight title.
Maybe you could say it’s just who the guy is: a lifelong martial artist, with a fluid and graceful attack — always worth watching.
But maybe sometimes, you love watching him… in spite of who he is.
You see, sometimes Anderson “Spider” Silva is everything I love about MMA.
Sometimes… not so much.
Prior to UFC 162 back in July, I wrote a piece entitled UFC 162: Anderson Silva, and the Martial Arts in MMA. Silva sometimes seems to embody the spirit we associate with martial arts: those elusive last two words in the MMA acronym.
He bows to opponent and the crowd. Then, he attacks with his classic Muay Thai, dispatching opponents of various styles and backgrounds.
That’s what I want to see in a martial artist. Back then, I wrote:
I want to see a little of what Masutatsu Oyama, the father of Kyokushin Karate, described as he felt impelled “to unify his body and spirit” through his fighting, even if it meant fighting a bull. (And, they say he did. In his book “Mastering Karate,” Oyama wrote that he was going to fight a bear as well, but “financial conditions deprived me of the chance.”)
When he’s at his best, you see that with Silva.
No fighter may be as fun to watch as the longtime UFC middleweight champion, who had gone on an extraordinary sixteen fight winning streak before that night in July.
No fighter may be as frustrating, either. Silva had several infamous performances in that run, taunting and showboating in bouts against over-matched opponents like Thales Leites and Demian Maia. Silva was actually being penalized for inactivity in the latter fight.
Against Chris Weidman in July at UFC 162, Silva’s clowning around ended when he was rendered unconscious by a hard left hand.
Should he get past Weidman this time, what next for the “Spider?”
A look at the UFC Rankings has several of Silva’s friends among the top five, Ronaldo “Jacaré” Souza and Lyoto Machida. “Jacaré” has already said he won’t fight Silva. Machida has inferred the same. Silva was quoted by MMA Fighting in October: “I’d never fight Jacare or Lyoto. I’d even stop fighting just not to fight them.”
That leaves Vitor Belfort or Michael Bisping. Belfort is struggling to get licensed in Nevada because of his testosterone replacement issues, so we may not see that bout either. Bisping, is another story. He simply isn’t seen as a serious contender.
So, what would be next?
What would be left for Anderson Silva to conquer? Maybe, only himself.
In his book, The Way of the Fight, Georges St-Pierre quoted St. Augustine: “conquer thine own self, and the whole world is conquered.” For a martial artist, conquering one’s own ego, along with any sense of fear, is a goal that is lifelong.
It’s unclear what Anderson Silva will look like next Saturday, returning to the cage after his first ever knockout loss and first loss in seventeen fights. We don’t know if it’s the beginning or the end.
As always, it’s worth watching though.